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Mundurucu Pitek, Emily


The Mundurucu live in the Amazon valley of Brazil. This entry focuses specifically on the Mundurucu village of Cabrua--located in what is now known as the Tapanjós River region of the Brazillian state of Pará--around the time of 1850. Mundurucu villages are autonomous, but come together for activities such as warfare and important ceremonies. Most Mundurucu villages have at least one religious specialist, known as a shaman, who has a close connection to the supernatural world and is the only individual capable of communicating with supernatural beings. The three categories of supernatural beings are souls of the dead, various malignant/mischievous beings, and the spirit mothers of game animals. The most important category is the spirit mothers of game animals, which include the generic spirit mother of all game animals, as well as specific mothers of various species. These spirit mothers are propitiated through ceremonies (led by shamen) in order to maintain the well-being of the community. For the Mundurucu, religion permeates most aspects of life. Consequently, this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with society itself.

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